The doors have opened, one by one the silk sheets have been whipped off the new models and the eyes of the automotive world are on Geneva.
Walk in to Palexpo and one question immediately springs to mind: has there ever been a motor show before with so many new high performance cars, for both road and track? It’s not so much the Geneva Motor Show as the GT3 Motor Show! And they’re not all 911s…
The biggest headline of the show was written on Monday night when at the VW Group dinner Bentley sprung a stunning sporting surprise. You can see our story on the new Bentley EXP10 Speed 6 here.
All the great sporting marques have something new to crow about and there’s no shortage of great British names among them. As well as Bentley, take a bow Aston Martin, McLaren, Lotus, Morgan and – in its first ever Geneva Show – Radical.
Aston Martin is showing what is definitely flavour of the month at Geneva 2015 – GT3. Not one though, but two new V12-powered cars – one for the road with 600bhp and one for the track with more than 800. Oh, and there’s the small matter of the new and intriguing Aston Martin DBX concept which you can read about here. An exciting stand then, as you would expect for what is a huge show for Aston Martin and its new boss, Dr Andy Palmer.
The Vantage GT3 (£250,000, limited edition of 100) is, says Aston, ‘comprehensively re-engineered and significantly restyled’ over the V12 Vantage S on which it is based. Could it be the ultimate road racer from Gaydon? It sounded pretty good in this video they sent us.
Gentlemen racers with bigger ambitions (and larger bank balances) may find the Aston Martin Vulcan more to their taste. Billed as the ‘most extreme car in Aston’s 102 year history’, the Vulcan is an all-carbon, FIA-approved, track-only GT3 car that’s available to just 24 buyers at £1.5m plus taxes.
The Vulcan’s significance goes beyond its general awesomeness – when it was revealed in February it brought us an Aston that previews design elements of the next generation of road cars. It also introduces Aston’s high-end ownership programme of race training and technical back-up.
Ferrari offers a similar driver programmes with its most extreme car, the LaFerrari-based FXX K (not at the show, but you can seen it in action here, with this video of Sebastian Vettel in one) and at Geneva McLaren joined this exclusive club – with a car that recalls what to GRR is the greatest roadracer of them all, the McLaren F1 GTR, on the 20th anniversary of its winning debut at Le Mans.
Meet, then, the McLaren P1 GTR. Only available to existing P1 owners, the GTR has 986bhp to call on and is even lighter and more aerodynamic than the road car to meet its target of being ‘the best driver’s car in the world on track’.
On the Geneva show stand the P1 (complete in iconic yellow and green livery) is being shown alongside one of the three long tail F1 road cars made to homologate the 1995 racer. The pair together make a spectacular sight – almost as grand as the 15 or so F1 GTRs due on the circuit here at the 73rd Members’ Meeting on 21 March!
There might have been no FXX K on the stand but there was a new prancing horse to get an eyeful of – the Ferrari 488 GTB. With its turbochargers the new berlinetta marked the end of an era for the mid-engined V8 Ferrari when it was announced, but the blowers do provide another 100bhp over the 458 Italia, which it replaces. How does 0-125mph in 8.3secs sound? Does the 488 look as good in the metal as in the pictures, though? We will be finding out.
Woking’s response in the road-legal stakes is the McLaren 675LT, with LT, or longtail, another welcome returnee from the McLaren back catalogue (even though the car doesn’t actually have a ‘long tail’.) It does though have 666bhp (or 675PS) and is lighter and more aerodynamic, and altogether far more changed over the 650S on which it is based than it appears. Price? £259,500 and 500 cars only. And no, you can’t upgrade your 650S to LT spec…
Ferrari and McLaren are at opposite ends of the Palexpo halls but in performance (the 675LT blasts from 0-62mph in 2.9secs) there shouldn’t be a fag paper between them. Perhaps we will find that out at the supercar shoot-out at FoS!
Audi’s big sporting news at Geneva is the second-gen R8, another world supercar debut just two days after it was first revealed – it is the fastest Audi road car ever made.
First impressions of the car in the flesh? Audi has played it safe on the design front, but (in our view) to perfectly judged effect. If you loved the old R8 (and a great many people did) you will surely adore this. You’ve got to like the V10 motor and paddleshift S Tronic ‘box though – there ain’t nothing else. Up to 602bhp (for the Plus), 0-62 in 3.2secs and 200mph or more are the rewards! Not forgetting the 23.9mpg from this consummate everyday supercar of course… The V10 comes in at £119,500 with the V10 Plus at £137,500.
From road to track, and Geneva is also the debut of the new Audi R8 LMS GT3 car, a rear-drive only machine that’s yet another customer race car designed to meet the 2016 GT3 regs.
Lamborghini, whose Huracan shares underpinnings with the new Audi R8, has already had something to say about that in the form of the 2015 Lamborghini Huracan GT3, that bewinged lime-green wedge unveiled earlier this year. There’s also a new Lamborghini Aventador SV, the fastest, lightest Aventador yet.
Proving that the old ‘win on Sunday, sell on Monday’ adage has life in it yet, Mercedes (the AMG branch) is using the Geneva Show to preview its 2016 road car turned race challenger, the Mercedes-AMG GT3. And what an absolute beauty it is with its 1950s-style SL grille. It will surely sound good too with the 6.3-litre normally aspirated V8 in the nose. Now all it has to do is emulate the success of the SLS GT3. No pressure then.
A GT3 (or Black Edition?) road version of the Mercedes racer to crown the newly launched GT range? A tempting thought, but it’s not for Geneva this year. A car like that might give the one company synonymous with GT3 – Porsche – some sleepless nights…
Fortunately over on the Porsche stand there’s what promises to be something very special indeed: the new Porsche 911 GT3 RS. With details emerging through the show we know it will come with 500bhp and a weight loss of 10kg.
Also new at Geneva this year is the Porsche Cayman GT4 complete with 380bhp – that’s 911 power – Porsche Motorsport honed running gear and aero and a slightly more real-world price (£64,451, if you can find one that is). The most focused Cayman yet looks as sweetly innocent as ever but is said to pack a performance/handling/braking punch that makes it as quick around the Nordschleife at 7mins 40sec as big brother GT3.
Aiming to knock almost a minute off that time is…Radical, which in its first ever appearance at the Geneva Motor Show is showing the new Radical RXC Turbo 500. Radical has owned the production car record at the ‘Ring for 10 years and the new car from Peterborough with its 462bhp/tonne (0-100mph in 6.8secs) is ‘Ring bound in August to try to set a new benchmark.
Like Aston, Lotus is another Brit with a new boss and new plans out to make a splash at Geneva this week. It is doing so with an evolutionary model badged Lotus Evora 400. It’s a circa £72,000, 186mph Lotus that’s two thirds new, despite familiar – if still wonderfully purposeful, we reckon – looks.
Morgan is getting a slice of the Geneva action with the unveiling on its stand of the new Morgan Aero 8, the latest in the V8-powered ‘Aero’ range.
Even the hot hatch is getting a big fillip at Geneva this year with two important new ones. Most interest centres on the new Ford Focus RS with, for the first time, four-wheel drive and what promises to be some clever torque vectoring going on underneath to help control its 320bhp. – and it has a ‘drift’ button.
And from Honda there is, at last, the new 167mph Civic Type R. The newly turbocharged VTEC machine looks fresh and new in its Geneva white finish even though we have seen it before in supposed concept form.
The same goes for the Honda NSX which is making its European debut in showroom-ready trim. The new Type R and NSX have been ‘nearly with us’ for years but it’s a bit different knowing that, at last, these cars will soon be here. A McLaren-Honda F1 car completes a very welcome sporting return for the Japanese brand.
Want to go to the Geneva Motor Show and have a look for yourself? It’s easy to get there and back in a day from the UK, and the halls are a 20mins under-cover walk from the airport. The show is open to the public from 5-15 March between 10am and 8pm (9am-7pm weekends). Adult tickets are 11 Swiss francs. For more, visit the show website.